Some Definitions

Some Definitions

Learning vs. Performance

A word about how the terms "learning" and "performance" are used in this book. "Learning" refers to the acquisition of skills, knowledge, and attitude—through instruction, self-study, or coaching. "Performance" refers to the deployment of these newly acquired skills in the workplace, and the concrete results of these efforts. The two words form a sequence, as follows:

  • Learning: designates the acquisition of new skills, knowledge, or attitudes

  • Performance: designates the results produced by putting this learning into practice on the job

Training vs. Learning

The word "training," which I also use liberally in this book, is an older designation. The trainer-centric world is now shifting, in the twenty-first century, to a learner-centric one. It's all a matter of perspective. Because not all organizations make this distinction, however, I use learning and training interchangeably in this book.

Training vs. Education

Education, much like training, refers to the acquisition of knowledge, skills, and attitudes. But—to oversimplify the point—education is to training as theory is to practice. To cite the old saw: Sex education is not the same thing as sex training. The distinction actually goes back to the industrial age of the 1800s, when education (traditionally associated with morality and the religious tradition) was viewed in opposition to training, which was associated with the rise of the new vocational schools. Education is the broader, more generalized term, whereas training is specific to real-world jobs.

Core Concepts vs. General Concepts

The core concepts and general concepts discussed in Parts One and Two of this book were originally one long alphabetical list. For reasons of speedier access, however, I decided to move four core concepts and processes—needs assessment, instructional systems design, evaluation, and systems—to the front, as Part One. These are the top four concepts that most practitioners have to deal with on a daily basis, so it's handy to have them in a separate section. Taken together, however, Parts One and Two can actually be viewed as a single list of concepts, processes, and terms. Frequent cross-references throughout the book help facilitate jumps to relevant and related information.

A Note to Researchers

To conserve space, I have confined most of the citations to books rather than to articles. For book citations, I have given the original date of publication, in order to highlight the continuity and historical development of the ideas involved. In many cases, this helps one grasp their wider meaning. For those interested in locating the most recent edition of any particular work, is the fastest source.

For those interested in locating the publisher and place of a book listed, any online state university library can readily provide that information, such as California's or Ohio's The latter also provides OCLC numbers (online computer library center) for ordering interlibrary loans. Many of the standard works on learning psychology are listed at

Information Web Sites of Associations

Additional industry information can be found on Web sites of the following professional associations:

American Management Association (AMA):

American Society for Training & Development (ASTD):

International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI):

Organization Development Network: